The book of Leviticus often strikes us as a list of rules and regulations and the gory details of animal sacrifices gets our stomach churning. Often one embarks on a bible reading plan and when they get to Leviticus they have already lost focus because of its long list of laws and regulations and when they get to Numbers, they just give up completely. But Leviticus even with all its laws and sacrifices is a book replete with symbolism that beautifully points forward to the person of Jesus Christ. One such chapter in Leviticus namely chapter 4 talks about the stipulations for the sin offering that the Israelites were to bring to the Lord. It includes practically all levels of society in Israel which were the priest, leaders (kings), community and the individual. That chapter lists the sin offerings they were to bring before the Lord regardless of whether they ’de sinned intentionally or unintentionally. What is interesting to note here is that no one (regardless of their position in society) was exempted, sending a clear message that everyone has sinned, is found guilty and is subject to the requirements of the law. The priest or the king were not exempted because of their position in society as compared to the community or the individual.
Let’s talk about the law for a minute. The aspect of whether the law is relevant to us living today is always a sticky question. The law condemns but the law cannot save. The law shows us the righteousness of God and at the same time shows how far we have fallen short of the standard of God. We couldn’t fulfill the law and so the law couldn’t save us. The law in itself is not the means of salvation but pointed to the only perfect person who could fulfill the law in its entirety and bring salvation. And so whilst we don’t literally follow the letter of the law today, the spirit of the law still stands and still points to Jesus as the only one who can take away our sin and guilt and save his people from their sins.
Coming back to Leviticus 4, we see that the animal sacrifices was brought to the altar and the hand of the perpetrator was placed on the head of the sacrificial animal which symbolically represented the transfer of sin from the perpetrator to an innocent party. The animal was then killed and its blood was smeared upon the horns of the altar, with the rest of the blood poured at the base of the altar. The flesh was then placed upon the altar and sacrificed upon the altar. The underlying problem with this sacrificial system was that it was ongoing since the law in itself couldn’t take away the sin, guilt and shame forever (Hebrews 10:1, 2, 3, 11). The blood of the animals brought to the altar couldn’t cleanse the person but it taught the sinner that innocent blood had to be shed for the remission of sins. Man also had to recognize that there was nothing he could himself do to cleanse his sin fully. So the pertinent question on everyone’s mind was “Who can save us from our sins permanently?”
Romans 8:3,4a says “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to become a sin offering…in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us.” God sent his son in the fullness of time and according to his plan, to become a Sin Offering for the whole of mankind. Jesus who was sinless and perfect in every way had to come and become the sacrificial sin offering for a sinful world. And he did exactly that because Philippians 2:8 says “He (Jesus) humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
Yes, Jesus became that sin offering so that in and through him we find repentance for our sins and experience the fullness of life. Jesus at the Last supper with his disciples breaks the bread and says “This is my body that was broken for you. Take and eat it in remembrance of me.” Likewise, he took the cup and said,”This is my blood, that was shed (poured out) for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25). These words of Jesus so aptly and succinctly epitomizes how he-the sinless Lamb of God, became the sin offering for the world, so that through him the world might be saved. His precious blood had to be shed and poured out before the altar of sacrifice and his body, broken and sacrificed on the altar as a sin offering to God.
The author of Hebrews in chapter 10:8-10 says “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, not were you pleased with them (although the law required them to be made). Then he (Jesus) said, Here I am, I have come to do your will. He (Jesus) sets aside the first to establish the second, and by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Friends, You and I deserve to die on that cross for our sins. It was our blood that needed to be shed and we would still fall short of God’s standards because our righteousness is like filthy rags. Jesus took our place, shed his blood, sacrificed his body on the altar so that he can become the fulfillment of the law and through his sacrificial death, we can be atoned and set free from the bondage of sin and death. This sinless Lamb of God who became our sin offering is worthy of all our praise, honour and glory. Revelation 5:12, 13 says…
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever”.
Have a blessed and Christ focused Good Friday. AMEN